Food on My Mind
Blogger: John Ugai
So it’s not exactly a secret, but I do feel like I need to get something off my chest—I love food. I would love to be able to say that it’s a cute problem, like the kind of problem that’s not actually a problem, but it isn’t. This is a safe space, so let’s be honest, mixing peanut butter into my Rocky Road at twelve a.m. will never be cute. I know what you’re thinking too, that is definitely weird enough to be completely true. It is true, and I know first hand that those seemingly contradictory ingredients blend into a gooey, peanut buttery, smooth, chocolate, chunky concoction. I also know firsthand how food can help a small town kid from rural Colorado can blend with vibrant life in LA and at Oxy.
Coming from a small town with only two four-lane roads, Los Angeles was a shock to me in many ways, and it took me a while to really feel at home. Thankfully, I found some go-to food joints, which started to make Eagle Rock home. In recognition of the special role that food has played in my Oxy career, I wanted to share my dream day of food glory.
Our culinary cruise starts in the morning, where the morning dew covers the cars parked on my street. We’re headed to York Blvd., just a few minutes off campus, to the newest establishment on our calendar, Donut Friend, which in my opinion should be renamed to Donut Guardian Angel. While you can put an unbelievable variety of toppings and fillings in your donut here (imagine Cold Stone with donuts), my personal favorite is the a classic glazed cut in half, filled with chocolate mouse, drizzled with chocolate glaze and finished off with chocolate shavings. Absolutely glorious.
After a few hours of recovery time, it’s time for lunch and something a little healthier. We’re off on another short trip to Colorado Blvd. to the always organic and always fresh food of Four Cafe. This small restaurant, with a casual café atmosphere delivers fresh flavors on their seasonal gourmet menus from which I am yet to find a sandwich I don’t like. Today, I’m opting for the fish burger with a perfectly grilled mahi-mahi filet with pickled red onion and some other slightly magical components. It’s so good and healthy enough that don’t feel bad about cleaning my plate.
Four Café seems so healthy that I don’t feel bad about our next stop, which is just a little farther down Colorado Blvd. Eagle Rock Bakery is an unassuming corner store with dynamite sandwiches. We’re on a mission for a lunch dessert though, so we are sticking to the freshly baked or prepared desserts and pastries. Their éclairs are crazy good, and they are what I’m picking on this food-tastic day.
Surprisingly enough, I was able to fend off food for an hour or two, and we’re ready to go on a little road trip to a tea house/bakery just a little ways away from Old Town Pasadena. Flower + Tea is my favorite place to satisfy my recently created but endlessly persistent boba tea cravings. I’m a sucker for their flavors of the month, especially because they give out free samples that always seem to get me hooked as soon as I walk up to the counter.
Finally, it’s time for the main course, another Colorado Blvd. standout, Lemongrass. The Vietnamese restaurant is an Oxy favorite and sentimental pick for me. It was the first place I had pho, and it’s one of the first places I visited off-campus. Lemongrass ushered me into the off-campus food scene and is one of the places that makes Oxy feel like home. Their chicken pho always hits the right notes with my taste buds.
I wouldn’t be honest about my dream food day if we didn’t go somewhere for dessert. So, to cap off this culinary hit list, we are once again traveling down Colorado Blvd. towards Glendale to an Oxy-alum owned masterpiece—Spitz. While they are known for their fantastic döner kebab sandwiches and wraps, we’re going to stick to their glorious gelato. They have a variety of flavors, but I’m a sucker for mint chip. It’s the perfect way to satisfy my sweet tooth and the perfect ending to my dream food day.
As I sit finishing this post, I can’t help but feeling like I should probably to the gym before I turn this hypothetical dream day of food into a reality. I hope that if you come visit Oxy, you’ll take some time to venture off campus to one of my favorites, so you can see what makes Oxy home for me.